They still draw pictures!
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LYRASIS Members and Sloan Foundation
They Still Draw Pictures!
A collection of 60 drawings made by
Spanish children during the war
New York. 1938
Copyright 1938 by
THE SPANISH CHILD WELFARE ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA
9 East 46th Street, New York
All rights in this book are reserved and it may
not be reproduced in whole or in part without
written permission from the holders of these
rights. For information address the publishers.
THE SPANISH CHILO WELFARE ASSOCIATION
AMERICAN FRIENDS SERVICE COMMITTEE
HIS is a collection of children's drawings; it is
also and at the same time a collection of draw-
ings made by little boys and girls who have
lived through a modern war.
Let us consider the collection in both its aspects — as a purely
aesthetic phenomenon and as an expression of contem-
porary history, through the eyes of the sociologist no less
than of the art critic.
From an aesthetic and psychological point of view, the most
startling thing about a collection of this kind is the fact
that, when they are left to themselves, most children display
astonishing artistic talents. (When they are interfered with
and given "lessons in art," they display little beyond docility
and a chameleon-like power to imitate whatever models are
set up for their admiration.) One can put the matter arith-
metically and say that, up to the age of fourteen or there-
abouts, at least fifty per cent of children are little geniuses
in the field of pictorial art. After that, the ratio declines with
enormous and accelerating rapidity until, by the time the
children have become men and women, the proportion of
geniuses is about one in a million. Where artistic sensibility
is concerned, the majority of adults have grown, not up, but
quite definitely down.
The sensibility of children is many-sided and covers all the
aspects of pictorial art. How sure, for example, is their sense
of colour! The children whose drawings are shown in this
collection have had the use only of crayons. But crayons
strong enough to stand up to the pressure imposed on them
by impatient childish hands are a most inadequate colour
medium. Child colourists are at their best when they use
gouache or those non-poisonous, jam-like pigments which
are now supplied to nursery schools and with which, using
the familiar techniques of playing with mud or food, even
the smallest children will produce the most delicately har-
monized examples of "finger painting." These Spanish chil-
dren, I repeat, have had to work under a technical handi-
cap; but in spite of this handicap, how well, on the whole,
they have acquitted themselves. There are combinations of
pale pure colours that remind one of the harmonies one
meets with in the tinted sketches of the eighteenth century.
In other drawings, the tones are deep, the contrasts violent.
(I remember especially one landscape of a red-roofed house
among dark trees and hills that possesses, in its infantile
way, all the power and certainty of a Vlaminck).
To a sense of colour children add a feeling for form and a
remarkable capacity for decorative invention. Many of
these pastoral landscapes and scenes of war are composed
— all unwittingly, of course, and by instinct — according to
the most severely elegant classical principles. Voids and
masses are beautifully balanced about the central axis.
Houses, trees, figures are placed exactly where the rule of
the Golden Section demands that they should be placed.
No deliberate essays in formal decoration are shown in this
collection; but even in landscapes and scenes of war, the
children's feeling for pattern is constantly illustrated. For
example, the bullets from the machine guns of the planes
will be made visible by the child artist as interlacing chains
of beads, so that a drawing of an air raid becomes not only
a poignant scene of slaughter, but also and simultaneously
a curious and original pattern of lines and circles.
Finally, there is the child's power of psychological and dra-
matic expression. This is necessarily limited by his deficien-
cies in technigue. But, within those limitations, the invention,
the artistic resourcefulness, the power of execution are often
remarkable. The pastoral scenes of life on the farm in time of
peace, or in the temporary haven of the refugees' camp, are
often wonderfully expressive. Everything is shown and
shown in the liveliest way. And the same is true of the
scenes of war. The drawings illustrating bombardment from
the air are painfully vivid and complete. The explosions,
the panic rush to shelter, the bodies of the victims, the weep-
ing mothers, upon whose faces the tears run down in bead-
like chains hardly distinguishable from the rosaries of ma-
chine-gun bullets descending from the sky — these are por-
trayed again and again with a power of expression that
evokes our admiration for the childish artists and our horror
at the elaborate bestiality of modern war.
And this brings us by an easy and indeed inevitable transi-
tion to the other, non aesthetic aspect of our exhibition. It is
a pleasure tc consider these children's drawings as works
of art; but it is also our duty to remember that they are signs
of the times, symptoms of our contemporary civilization. If
we look at them with the eyes of historians and sociologists,
we shall be struck at once by a horribly significant fact:
the greater number of these drawings contain representations of
aeroplanes. To the little boys and girls of Spain, the symbol
of contemporary civilization, the one overwhelmingly signi-
ficant fact in the world of today is the military plane — the
plane that, when cities have anti-aircraft defenses, flies high
and drops its load of fire and high explosives indiscrimi-
nately from the clouds; the plane that, when there is no
defense, swoops low and turns its machine-guns on the
panic-stricken men, women and children in the streets. For
hundreds of thousands of children in Spain, as for millions
of other children in China, the plane, with its bombs and its
machine guns, is the thing that, in the world we live in and
helped to make, is significant and important above all
others. This is the dreadful fact to which the drawings in our
collection bear unmistakable witness.
North of the Pyrenees and west of the Great Wall, the im-
agination of little boys and girls is still free (I am writing in
the first days of September, 1938) to wander over the whole
range of childish experience. The bombing plane has not
yet forced itself upon their thoughts and emotions, has not
yet stamped its image upon their creative fancy. Will it be
possible to spare them the experiences to which the child-
ren of Spain and China have been subjected? And, if so,
by what means can this be achieved? To this second ques-
tion many different answers have been given. Of these the
most human and rational is the apparently Utopian but, at
bottom, uniquely practical answer proposed by the Quak-
ers. That this solution, or any other of its less satisfactory
alternatives, will be generally accepted in the near future
seems in the highest degree improbable. The most that in-
dividual men and women of good will can do is to work on
behalf of some general solution of the problem of large-
scale violence and meanwhile to succour those who, like
the child artists of this exhibition, have been made the vic-
tims of the world's collective crime and madness.
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This book was published at cost and exclusively in order
that the profits might be contributed to the Quakers for the
relief of children in Spain, where millions are underfed or
actually starving. As the sale of this volume will save many
lives, we need not be apologetic about the breach of eti-
quette in asking the public to recommend this book. Its merits
consist not only in Mr. Huxley's preface and in the publica-
tion of a unique collection of documents, the like of which
have never before been seen, but also when given to a child
may remind it that there are millions of unhappy children
in Spain and teach it to appreciate its own good fortune,
which it considers a matter of course.
The illustrations have been arranged in what one might
call a chronological progression in four parts, adding there-
to some miscellanea.
First: The children's general impression of war: Plates
Second: A series of drawings which picture bombings:
Third: A cycle of pictures showing the flight from danger.
Trains, trucks, steamers, rowboats, oxcarts, mules or their
own feet brought the children to safer places: Plates 24-36.
Fourth: The life of the children, once they are in homes
or colonies in Spain or France: Plates 37-49.
Fifth: Heterogeneous subjects: Plates 50-60.
The 60 drawings were selected almost at random, with-
out paying special attention to their artistic value. They are
autobiographic pages of unkept diaries. As the Peninsula
has given to the world its most original painters, contem-
poraneous Spanish children's ability for pictorial art is cer-
tainly not inferior to that of other countries. A specific
ability for perspective cannot be denied. Those who know
Spain will guickly find themselves at home when scanning
these illustrations, and those who have not been there will
intuitively feel that the atmosphere of landscape, rural or
urban architecture has been well caught.
As Mr. Huxley points out, the Spanish children are un-
der the enormous handicap of not having proper material
with which to work. Even professional painters in Spain at
this moment complained to the writer of lack of good paint,
canvas, pencils and brushes. The children generally have
to use small bits of inferior paper, whereas experience
shows that a child's talents have free scope only when ade-
quate space is allowed, hence the superiority of children's
murals over their drawings. Empty stomachs, frostbitten
fingers are other handicaps.
The captions are often as obvious, but perhaps as useful,
as explanatory notes below reproductions of paintings even
in many erudite books on art. Without having his attention
drawn, for instance to Plate 40, only the most patient ob-
server would notice the gay deviltry of the class of young-
sters and appreciate the humor of the drawing. The sub-
titles in quotation marks give a verbatim rendering of the
children's inscriptions, reproducing their awkward, help-
less, sometimes stilted verbal expressions. Their drawings
are more eloquent than their words, better than their syntax.
One of this country's great child psychiatrists noted that
these drawings lack the morbidity often observed in child-
ren's drawings of great American cities. He also observes
that there are few drawings of food, so frequently the theme
of children who live a normal life. In ordinary times Spanish
children too painted sausages and hams. They also painted
trains which were not meant for evacuation, and airplanes
which carried mail and passengers.
When Spanish children's drawings were first publicly
exhibited, questions as to how they were collected were
asked so frequently that an anticipated brief answer does
not seem out of place. The writer, when in Spain six months
ago, asked the Board of Education for some drawings, and
within a few days was deluged with hundreds, flowing in
from the schools of Madrid. At Valencia the same experience
was met. To the authorities at Madrid and Valencia we want
to express our thanks for their helpfulness. Also to Miss
Margaret Palmer, Representative of the Carnegie Institute
in Spain who sent us a great number of drawings from re-
fugee centers for Spanish children in France. And to Bruce
Bliven, from whose articles on Spanish children's drawings
we have borrowed, with his permission, the title of this
volume. In the name of the Spanish children we express
our gratitude to Aldous Huxley for his most generous con-
—J. A. W.
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lesus Esquerro, 10 years old. "My vision of the war." An excellent draw-
ing for so young a child.
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Enrique de San Roman, 11 -year-old child at Colony of Puebla Sarga,
Province of Valencia, writes above his drawing simply: "Picture of the
Isidoro Martin, 1 1 years old, Children's Colony of Tangel, Province of
Alicante. He gives his vision of the war in pen and ink. The fighting
soldiers seem to be children of Isidoro's own age.
Inscription on reverse says: "This drawing represents that sometimes
when the militia went to the front, on the way the enemy airplanes
machine-gunned them and they have wounded some of them. Francisco
Pedrell. Age 12 years."
Manuel Alonso Alemani, 6 years old, of the School Colony of Torrente.
Note the very primitive way of drawing figures and planes, whereas
armored cars are quite realistic.
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Writing on reverse says: "Dolores Turado Alonso, 10 years old, evacu-
ated from Charmartin de la Rosa, Madrid to Alcira, Valencia. Nov. 18th
1937." Inscription under drawing: "The wounded distract their sorrows
contemplating nature." On the building: "Surgical Hospital" (Hospital de
Tomas Bosco Gomar, 13 years old. January 18th, 1938. Watercolor. Note
the camouflaged armored car to the right. The original shows most of
the rainbow's colours. Destruction shown to the left, destructive engines
to the right. As dramatic in colour as it is in action.
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Fernando Gonzalez Esteban, 12 years old, evacuated from Madrid to
Alcira, November, 1937. What excitement in the sky, trembling with the
roar of eight planes! The ruined building in the foreground has been
shattered long ago as can be seen by growth of herbs on tower and
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Drawn by Juan Jose Martinez, Madrid. 1 1 years old. The inscription says:
"The child during the bombardment sleeps in the subway." A cool place
though not well ventilated during Madrid's summer heat. A bitter refuge
when the thermometer marks zero.
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Rafael Gomez, only 10 years old. "My vision of the war." An objective
rather academic drawing, represents the literal truth: Planes, explosion,
Alejandro Lazcano. No age given. Normally, a high-flying plane seems
the size of a crow. In this child's mind the plane fills the sky, overshadow-
ing the town it has set on fire.
Manuel Corona Mingo, 11 years old. Family Colony Group "Alfredo Cal-
deron," Madrid. Searchlights focus on the enemy planes over Madrid.
The tallent structure is the famous American Telephone Building, shelled
160 times and still standing.
Manuel Garcia, 12 years old. From a hospital cot, Manuel recalls his
flight from enemy planes. Covering his eyes to shut out the sight of fall-
ing bombs, he runs with dogs and sheep as frightened as himself. Child-
ren's Colony 10, Alicante.
Spanish Center at Cerbere, France. Inscription on reverse says: "This
scene represents a bombardment of my town Port-Bou. Marie Dolores
Sanz, 13 years old." The girl under the tree covers her eyes, weeping
over the death of her playmates.
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Inscription on reverse: "This scene I have seen when the airplanes came
to bomb and children and women run to the tunnel because if they don't
they get killed in their houses. Gloria Boada (girl) 12 years old, from
Irun Guipuzcoa, Children's colony of Bayonne, France." The children at
the left react differently to the enemy aircraft. One cries: "Oh Mama!"
another, "The sirens and bells!" while the third bitterly exclaims, "How
valiant." The woman with the child says, "To the tunnel." With hand
raised to her face, the woman at the right cries out, "Oh, they have des-
troyed my house!" Even the church bell speaks, ringing out "puntulun."
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Francisco Torres Marcos, Family Colony of Puebla Larga, Province of
Valencia. Age 10. Inscriptions on drawing read from left to right: "Every-
body to shelter!" "Museum." "Boom." "Mama I cannot see." "Shelter."
Spanish Center at Cerbere, France. Inscription on the reverse says: "This
drawing represents the machine that came to fetch the cars and planes
and everybody to the shelter . . . " — Jose Ruiz, 11 years old. This drawing
gives considerable anecdotic detail. Only a fragment of the car the loco-
motive is to fetch is visible on the left, below the dugout which serves
as a shelter. A dead baby on the ground. Men and women running.
Only the water carrier seems paralyzed. The planes are far above to
right and left.
Inscription on reverse says: (The stilted language of the 14 year old child
is, as has been our rule, literally translated). "This scene gives the form
of how the bombardments of Bilbao have been in the year 1937. I appear
in the scene and was at the entrance of the tunnel of Begona." Hector
Hilario from Bilbao. Children's Colony at Bayonne, France. The
composition of the drawing is distinctly divided into three patterns: the
moving planes, the once quiet village and the running mass of inhab-
itants seeking shelter in the tunnel.
Placida Medrano, 1 1 years old. Inscription on reverse: "We seek shelter
under the trees." A precarious shelter indeed.
Colony 40 Oliva, Valencia. Magalena Ruiz, 1 1 years old. A house col-
lapses and the wooden understructure is splintered into an amorphous
heap of timber. A dead person on the small town's street, killed on the
way to the "refugio." A heart-breaking subject and a most remarkable
Eduardo Herrera, 12 years old. A group of. children on the main street in
a little Spanish town looks up to heaven. Perhaps those are friendly air-
planes. Excellent perspective. The nocturnal scene is happily rendered.
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Inscription: "My house destroyed, the bricks are flying through the air."
A dead child, a Red Cross motor truck, two adults seen in the shelter
(refugio) the inside of which Carmen Huerta, 9 years old, shows us, as if
it were made of glass. She comes from Chamartin de la Rosa (Madrid)
and was evacuated to Alcira in November, 1938.
Lucia del Hierro, 1 1 years old. No other inscription. The expressive
picture represents women and children standing in line to buy coal (1st
from left), bread (center) and groceries to the right. A woman leads a
child by the hand. A girl is jumping rope. Planes, play and the struggle
Luis Gonzalez. La Pinada, 1937-1938. The child must be about 6 years
old, to judge by the simplified human figures which stand in the bread
Inscription on reverse: Colony No. 40 Oliva (Valencia) Pepa Alonso, 12
years. "Evacuation." Peasant women wave their hands at the children
on train travelling to or hoping for safety. Is the child crying over separa-
tion from a friend or because she was left behind?
Rafael Jover Rodriguez, 13 years old, Colony at Bellus. Evacuation
train. Is it a doll/ resting on the girl's lap, or her little sister? They are
uprooted but for the time being their journey is exceptionally comfortable.
Evacuation by train from Madrid. Two of the children cry, another ges-
ticulates in despair. A girl is still busy with her luggage, a boy shaking
hands through the doorway. Perhaps it is a self-portrait of J. Rodriguez,
13 years old.
Francisco Garcia, 14 years old, School Colony, Torrente, Province of Val-
encia. The Swiss Aid motor truck evacuating children from danger
encounters a plane on the way. "Is it ours or theirs?" the children ask
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Ildefonso Ortuno Ibanez, 1 1 years old. Family colony at Puebla Larga,
Province of Valencia. The second child from the left exclaims: "I also want
to get on!" She carries a valise, therefore was ready to be evacuated
and must be desperate at being left behind. Not the "I also want to get on"
of a spoiled child desirous to go on an excursion. A cry of anguish.
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Inscription on reverse: Luis Casero Esteban, 1 1 years old, native of Ma-
drid, Family Colony at Puebla Larga. (Province of Valencia.) If only the
airplanes would not hum in the sunlight. This very bourgeois family
with the hunchbacked father looks gayly at the prospect of leaving a
place where airplanes drone. Will there be none where they go?
Inscription: "My evacuation." Pura Barrera, 11 years old. Is the little
girl with her family to travel in the mule-drawn cart or in the motorbus?
Felipe Redoudo Blanco, 1 1 years old, Bilbao. Inscription: Evacuation from
Bilbao to France. The steamer "Habana'' is nearing Bilbao to evacuate
Spanish civilians to France. On the pier human figures waving their
arms in welcome. On each side of the steamer Habana are craft flying
the Union Jack.
Inscription on reverse: "This drawing I have made to show that I fled
from Irun in this way." Theodoro Pineiro from Irun, Guipuzcoa. 13 years
old Children's Colony at Bayonne, France. This is cm impressive picture
of an exodus from burning Irun. In row-boats the inhabitants fled to
the French shore.
Isidro Esquerro Ruiz, 12 years old. Children's Residence at Onteniente.
(Province of Alicante). Inscription over drawing: "Scenes of evacuation."
In Isidro's village no other vehicle for flight was available but this ox-
drawn cart. The slowest and mildest beasts of burden contrasting with
the swift-moving, dangerous motor-driven birds above.
Resurreccion Rodriguez, 1 1 years old. Inscription above the picture:
"An evacuation." It is night. All the family's belongings are packed upon
the mule's back. Tragedy vibrates in the nervous, artless lines of this
Inscription on reverse reads: "This scene means my flight over the Py-
renees. In the distance the first village we encounter: Laroun. Elias Gar-
alda, 12 years old, from Pamplona. Children's Colony at Bayonne." The
reproduction fails to give a clear idea of the drawing's beauty. Note,
moving towards the church at right, the hazy forms of 4 people who
straggle through the snow, dragging a mule behind them.
D late 37
Pilar Marcos, 14 years old, Colony at Bellus. Mickey Mouse inspires
murals even in Spanish schools.
Francisca Gonzalez Ruiz, 12 years old, loves music, the dance and ap-
parently also painting.
Julian Arjonilla, 12 years old, Children's Colony of Olivia, Valencia Pro-
vince. Inscription on reverse says: "Movies before the war." Inscription
on left: "Smoking forbidden." To right: "Spitting forbidden." The child
remembers a Wild West film. The broad-brimmed hats of spectators
seem to indicate that Julian Arjonilla' s home was in Andalusia.
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Maria Luz Escudero, 1 1 years old. Children's residence, Tangel, Province
of Alicante. Pupils seem rather distracted. A difficult class to manage.
When their country is torn in two, what does it matter whether 2 plus 2
Inscription on reverse: This is the Colony where we live and we are
playing "Al Cuadro." Marcelina Muneca, 12 years. "Al Cuadro" is the
Spanish form of hopscotch. The inscription (see third child from the left)
says: "You are cheating."
Children's Colony at Saint-Hilaire in France. The child, 9-year-old Car-
men Benitz, writes: "What we are doing in the colony." Jumping rope,
playing ball below. The upper part of this diptych neatly separated
from the lower one by a frieze of flowers, is a reminiscence. Bullfighting
scenes very rarely seem to occupy the children's imagination. Only three
corridas" in a collection of over a thousand drawings.
Manolita Ortega Pallares, 10 years old, School of Chirivella. Family
Colony, Group Alfredo Calderon, Madrid. "Playing in the Pardo," says
the inscription. This is a reminiscence, for the Pardo has not been ac-
cessible to children since the war broke out. Note the inverted perspective
of the ring-around-the-rosy playing children. Rather fanciful the figure of
the woman with a broom. What is she sweeping?
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Inscription on reverse says: "Football match in Barcelona." Eugenio
Planas, 10 years old. Football has become more popular than bullfights.
"This drawing represents our life in the colony playing I and others." (ah,
the child repents and politely strikes out "I and others" adding "others
and I") in the fronton of the Colony. Tulano Theodoro Pineiro, 13 years
old from Irun, Guipuzcoa. Children's Colony, Bayonne, France. The
Basque ball game, Jai-Alai, has many addicts in the French Basque
country. It is played almost everywhere in Spain, in towns in covered
courts, in villages against any wall.
Felix Ramirez Nieto, 11 years old, Colony of Bellus. Skiing has become
popular in Spain during the last two decades. Excepting the South Coast
there is hardly a town from which snow covered peaks cannot be reached
in a few hours. From Madrid to the 7000-foot peak of Navacerrada is 30
miles, from Barcelona to Puigcerda is 80 miles. How could young Ramirez
have missed the chance of drawing a skier who has come a cropper!
Inscription on reverse :"This drawing shows us before we enter into the
school. Laura Grabacos Trias.. 11 years old." This coloured drawing has
the quaint quality and perspective of some early mediaeval miniatures.
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Marcelino Serrano Hervas, 13 years old. Colony of Lobosillo, Province of
Murcia. This drawing gives an excellent idea of a small rural town.
Marcelino is a serious boy. We suppose he has portrayed himself, walk-
ing in measured steps with his schoolmate, discussing very grave affairs.
Marcelino Serrano Hervas, (see preceding plate) also has an eye for na-
ture. He is a good draughtsman, has great artistic sense, but is not over-
lyrical. Agriculture is a sober business worthy of the attention of a mature
young man of 13.
Teresa Vergara Garcia, 13 years old, School Colony at Torrente, Province
of Valencia. Note the realistic drawing of the horse, contrasting with the
summary treatment of the human figures picking oranges from the
ground and placing them in a basket.
Victor Ramirez, 14 years old, Child Colony of Lobosillo, Province of Mur-
cia. The drawing represents an everyday scene in Spain's rural life.
A sledge larded with flint is driven over the wheat. This is the old-fash-
ioned way of threshing from Babylonian, perhaps pre-Babylonian times.
In the Near East and in Spain this primitive method is most frequently
Carlos Serrano Hervas, 14 years old, Colony of Lobosillo. The shepherd
and his flock is an ever attractive motive for painters, photographers
and, as we see, also for children.
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Very gifted is young Lazcano, 14 years old, who draws this landscape
from the Colonia La Pinada. He will be a distinguished painter if he sur-
vives the war. Here is perfect rendering of the southeastern landscape
where nearly every inch of ground, if carefully cultivated, gives abund-
ant crops of oranges, olives, onions and in some places even dates.
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Inscription on reverse says: "This represents trees and a well which is
covered by the trees and then there is a man who herds goats and a girl
gathering flowers. Maria Duran Gratacos, 1 1 years old." This is a flower-
loving child, a bunch of flowers in her hands. The blossom-covered
trees gracefully and formally bending toward each other seem to float
in the air. The color scheme is exceptional. The drawing has the graceful
frailness of Persian Timurid miniatures.
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Isidro Martinez, 1 1 years old, Colony of Tangel, Province of Alicante.
Isidro is not a town-bred boy. Certainly a peasant child, lovingly draw-
ing the olive crop. The fruit is being beaten down with a stick.
Inscription says: "In the kitchen in the school of Freinet." No age indi-
cated. Carmen Notarilau. This gay watercolor is made by a gay child.
Cheerful because there is peace and food in a French Colony for children.
A very housewifey and original composition which has a quaint Marie
What could be more cubistic than this drawing of 10-year-old Isidro
Hernandez? An innocent Picasso. And of the Blue Period besides.
A. Guerra, 14 years old, drew this intricate picture of Valencia's medieval
tower "El Miguelete." His teacher, Jose Manaut, assured the writer that
the drawing was made in his presence, from memory. If the boy survives
he will become an architect or a painter. He never can have seen a
work of Bombois or Vivian which this suggests.
The inscription in very childish handwriting says nothing but: "The
burial of Miguel. Alfonso Gonzalez, 9 years old." The grim simplicity of
this drawing shows how completely the death of his playmate absorbs
the child's mind. Four men carry the coffin to the cemetery over the
gate of which is the sign R.I.P. Requiescat in pace. May you rest in
peace, little Miguel.